The Guide to Excellent Customer Service
In The Shawshank Redemption, the character of Brookes Hatlin is released after decades behind bars. The world has changed. It's faster. Cars are faster, technology is faster, people seem to be in so much more of a hurry than when he was convicted. The speed of things and the lack of familiarity in simple day-to-day living pushes him further and further into a corner that he can only find one means of escape from - a rope.
I try to keep this in mind as I see folks of an older generation grapple with the internet. They don't trust that by using the internet they won't be suddenly exposed to credit fraud. They don't quite understand how email works or how to switch browsers (the number of times I've had to explain what, exactly, a browser IS over the years is staggering).
And this frustration turns pretty quickly to anger.
So, let's talk a moment about Customer Service.
I understand, in the most We Hafta Make the Customer HAPPY paradigm, that customer satisfaction is a primary goal in that field. Customers have difficulties and it is both a nice thing and an appropriate business practice to be as helpful as possible.
My policy is pretty simple: The Customer is Always Right (Unless the Customer Acts Like an Entitled Douchebag and then the Customer Isn't Worth Keeping His or Her Business).
Most Customer Service Reps feel exactly the same way. In fact, I'd argue that it is human nature to respond to that snide, dismissive You Are Here to SERVE Me and Will Get Fired If I Complain attitude with nothing short of a white hot Hulk rage that makes them wonder why people (as a huge generalization) are such shitty creatures.
A couple of tips to help you ensure your experience with dissatisfaction with a particular service (be it your food at a restaurant or a problem with your phone or a longer than necessary wait at a pharmacy) goes the way you really want it to:
• Always assume that your waiter or the voice on the phone is like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day — a fucking genius who prefers a more mundane day job to pay the bills. You are far more likely to get the results of your interaction that you hope for by treating even the dumbest dipshit on Planet Barista like you believe he or she is an extraordinary artist or has a PhD in Spinal Surgery than by looking down at him or her and acting accordingly.
• Always assume that the fault in the situation is yours first. The fact that your twenty-two emails weren't answered might have to do with your ancient AOL account and not that the company simply doesn't care about you. That tiny ounce of humility will win you favors beyond your expectation.
• Unless the business is your brother's, don't take the fact that the salmon is raw in the middle or the fact that your Windows just won't fucking update personally. It isn't. Really.
• Understand in this world of Huge Corporations and billions of people, the fact that you are spending your money does NOT put you in the position of power. The CS Rep has something you want. Unless you have a weapon or are a Jedi, the only way to get something you want is to ask for it and be gracious with the answer. Bank of America hires people in other countries to answer your call because they can pay them $0.45 an hour. Your anger at not being able to get your credit card issued tomorrow instead of 5-7 business days is not going to motivate him or her to bend the rules to help you out.